• Rav Ezra Bick


Introduction to the Study of Talmud

Megilla: 10: 22a

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We are on 22a, 14 lines from the bottom, the last word on the line - "זה". We are starting a new sugya, which first refers back to the mishna, as is customary.

The mishna, after stating the category of days which have four olim for the reading (Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed), gives a rule. This is the only category which has a defining rule. The rule is: "This is the rule - every (day) which has musaf but is not a yom tov, four read."

Are there days, other than Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed, that meet the conditions of the rule, but are not already listed? It is not easy to think of any, but if so, what is the purpose of the rule? The converse question also needs to be asked - are there other days which have four olim but do not meet the conditions of the rule? This is the first question to be addressed in the gemara.

This is the rule, every that has a musaf etc..

We ask: How many on a public fast? Rosh Chodesh and Chol HaMoed which have a musaf (additional) sacrifice, four read, but here, where there is no musaf  sacrifice, no (we do not read four);

or perhaps, here too, there is an addition to the prayer.

זה הכלל כל שיש בו מוסף וכו'.

איבעיא להו: תענית צבור בכמה? ראש חדש ומועד דאיכא קרבן מוסף - ארבעה, אבל הכא דליכא קרבן מוסף - לא,

או דלמא: הכא נמי איכא מוסף תפלה?

In other words, to what does the word musaf, used in the mishna's rule, refer? The word means "addition." We naturally think it refers to the musaf sacrifice, or the musaf prayer (which is in place of the musaf  sacrifice), and hence a fast day is not included; but the gemara suggests that perhaps it refers to any addition to the prayers. On a public fast, there is an additional beracha in the prayer, the beracha  beginning with the word "aneinu."

Question: In nine out of ten cases, at least, the word musaf refers to the sacrifice or the corresponding prayer. What is the motivation of the gemara to raise the possibility that here the musaf is a single additional beracha in the shemona esrei? Take your time to think about this - I am in no rush and will patiently wait.

I think that the reason the gemara is willing to entertain the possibility that a fast day is called a day that has a musaf, because of the additional beracha in shemona esrei, is because the gemara  wants to know why the mishna bothers to formulate a rule for when there are four olim. The obvious utility of a rule like this is to provide us with the means of deciding to have four olim on another day, other than the two listed in the mishna explicitly. We do not need the rule to tell us to have four olim on Rosh Chodesh or Chol HaMoed, since they are listed before the rule. So, it would appear, there must be another day that the rule defines, and that day cannot be any other than a fast day. To include a fast in the rule, we have to redefine the musaf to include even an additional beracha and not just an entire additional sacrifice.

So, the question is: How many olim are there on a fast day?

Come and hear (a proof): "On Rosh Chodesh and on Chol HaMoed, four read." So, on a public fast, three!

Read the first part (of the mishna just quoted) - "On Mondays and Thursdays and Shabbat mincha, three read." So, on a public fast, four! Apparently, we cannot deduce anything from this (mishna).

Come and hear: Rav came to Bavel on a public fast. He arose and read from the sefer (Torah). He began and recited a beracha;  he finished and did not recite a beracha. Everybody fell on their faces, but Rav did not fall on his face.

Now Rav was reading the yisrael portion, so why did he not recite a beracha when he finished? Is it not because another needs to read after him?

ת"ש בראשי חדשים ובחולו של מועד קורין ארבעה, הא בתענית צבור - שלשה! 

אימא רישא: בשני ובחמישי, ובשבת במנחה קורין שלשה, הא תענית צבור - ארבעה! אלא, מהא ליכא למישמע מינה.

תא שמע, דרב איקלע לבבל בתענית צבור, קם קרא בסיפרא, פתח בריך, חתים ולא בריך. נפול כולי עלמא אאנפייהו. ורב לא נפל על אפיה.

מכדי רב בישראל קרא, מאי טעמא חתם ולא בריך? לאו משום דבעי למיקרי אחרינא בתריה?

In other words, if Rav did not recite a blessing after he finished reading, apparently it is because he was not the last reader. The original custom, you will recall from two weeks ago, was that a closing blessing was recited only after the last reading. Since Rav was neither a kohen or a levi, the earliest aliya he could get was the third, and if that was not the last, then there are apparently four aliyot.

No, Rav read the kohen portion, for Rav Huna used to read the kohen portion.

לא, רב בכהני קרא, דהא רב הונא קרי בכהני.

The fact that even the gemara  calls the first aliya the "kohen aliya," does not in fact close the question as to whether a non-kohen can get it. The gemara points out that Rav Huna would regularly be called up first, so apparently a talmid chacham might well have precedence. Hence, it is possible that Rav was the first oleh, and therefore he did not recite a beracha after his aliya, as there were two - but no more than two - additional olim.

Rav Huna could read the kohen portion, for even Rav Ami and Rav Asi, who were the most important kohanim in Eretz Yisrael, were subject to Rav Huna, but Rav - was there not Shemuel, who was a kohen and superior to him?

Shemuel also was subject to Rav, and Rav would merely grant honor to Shemuel. And when would he grant honor to Shemuel, before him, but when not in his presence he would not grant him honor.

בשלמא רב הונא קרי בכהני - דהא אפילו רב אמי ורב אסי, דכהני חשיבי דארעא ישראל, מיכף כייפו ליה לרב הונא. אלא רב, הא איכא שמואל, דכהנא הוה ודבר עליה?

שמואל נמי מיכף הוה כייף ליה לרב, ורב הוא דעבד ליה כבוד. וכי עביד ליה - בפניו, שלא בפניו - לא עביד ליה.

It seems that the first aliya can be properly granted to a talmid chacham, but only to the most outstanding one. Getting the first aliya is a matter of honor, and the question is whether the kohanim are obligated in the superior honor of the outstanding talmid chacham. Rav Huna was such an individual, but it appeared that Rav was subject to the superior status of Shemuel. Yet the gemara answers that this is not the case - Rav would honor Shemuel, but objectively, his status was greater than Shemuel's. hence, when not in the presence of Shemuel, Rav would accept the first aliya.

Aside from the halacha that permits the giving of the first aliya to a talmid chacham, we have just gotten a fascinating glimpse into rabbinic politics and social hierarchy.

This is in fact probable - that Rav was reading the kohen portion - for if he was reading the yisrael  portion, why did he recite a beracha before it?

It was after the enactment (that instituted a beracha before and after every aliya).

If so, then he should have recited a beracha after it as well!

Rav's locality was different, as people would come in, but no one would go out.

הכי נמי מסתברא דרב בכהני קרא, דאי סלקא דעתך בישראל קרא - לפניה מאי טעמא בריך?

לאחר תקנה.

אי הכי לאחריה נמי לבריך?

שאני היכא דיתיב רב, דמיעל עיילי מיפק לא נפקי.

Rashi - therefore he would recite a beracha before the reading, because of those who would come in late, as we stated above, but afterward he would not recite a beracha, as he did not worry about people leaving.

What is the status of the attempted proof concerning the reading on a fast day at this point? The gemara we have just read has twisted back and forth several times, which is typical - make sure you kept track. Have we proven that there are four olim on a fast day, or not?

This is fairly typical in a sugya. The gemara rejected the proof, which was based on the assumption that Rav had received the third aliya, by raising the possibility that he had in fact received the first aliya, normally reserved for a kohen. This possibility is sufficiently novel that the gemara needs to defend it by citing the example of Rav Huna. The gemara then debates whether the example of Rav Huna is relevant to the case of Rav, as Shemuel, who was a kohen, appears to have a higher status than Rav. The gemara then rejects this perception. All this has merely served to establish  the possibility that Rav received the first aliya rather than the third - but that possibility is sufficient to refute the proof that there are four aliyot on a fast day, since a proof must be based on necessity.

But then the gemara goes one step further. It claims that it is in fact necessary to understand that Rav received the first aliya. This does nothing to further our original inquiry, since in any event it is not necessary to understand that he received the third aliya. The gemara has gone off on a tangent concerned with the correct understanding of the story of Rav. This last point is rejected - you cannot prove that Rav received the first aliya. It is possible that he received the third aliya, and was of the opinion that one should recite a beracha before every aliya, but not afterward, at least not in his locality. On the other hand, you cannot prove that he received the third aliya either. Therefore, there still is no proof that there are four aliyot on a fast day.

Which is why the gemara continues its efforts to find a proof to decide the original question.

Come and hear: This is the rule, any day on which there would be interference in work for the people, such as a fast day or Tisha B'Av, three read, but if there is no interference with work for the people, such as Rosh Chodesh or Chol HaMoed, four read. 

We hear from this!

תא שמע: זה הכלל: כל שיש בו ביטול מלאכה לעם, כגון תענית צבור ותשעה באב - קורין שלשה, ושאין בו ביטול מלאכה לעם, כגון ראשי חדשים וחולו של מועד - קורין ארבעה.

שמע מינה.

This is pretty straightforward. The beraita states explicitly that on a fast day we have only three olim. What is more, the beraita appears to give the rationale. On a day when people go to work, we are not interested in lengthening the prayers. While one more oleh might not seem significant, apparently there is a principle here at work as well. You lengthen prayers on days when there is no pressure. I would suggest, though I can not prove this, that the consideration may well be psychological rather than economic. On work days, people are under pressure to get to work, and any additional delay causes a problem, which, among other things, would not contribute to the seriousness of their prayers.

Of course, you probably want to ask why Rosh Chodesh does not have a problem of interference with work. After all, it is permitted to work on Rosh Chodesh.

Rashi (naturally) answers this question even before it is asked.

Rashi s.v. "Rashei"

    On Rosh Chodesh there is not too much interference with work, for women do not work on them.... And I heard from my old master z"l that this mitzva was given them because they did not take off (and give) their rings for the golden calf.

The Rashi is followed with a parenthetical note marked "tosafot," meaning that someone had added a note to the manuscript. It reads,

    Tosafot: And I found in the forty-fifth chapter of the Beraita of Rabi Elazar that the women heard and did not want to give their rings to their husbands. Rather they said to them: You want to make a statue and image which has no power to save. And God rewarded the women in this world that they should observe Rosh Chodesh more than the men, and in the next world they are destined to be renewed like the moon.

We now have the beginning of an understanding of the hierarchy of the readings. On work days, there are three olim. On days when there is a limitation on work, it is possible to add more olim. We have to see the rules for when we call four, five, six, and seven - but that will have to wait for next week.